Legislative Roundup

Changes in payroll laws and regulations from across Canada

Canada

Bill C-86 proposes changes to EI benefits, pay equity

The federal government has tabled legislation to implement measures proposed in this year’s budget, including a new employment insurance (EI) parental sharing benefit and proactive pay equity requirements.

Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, which Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced in the House of Commons on Oct. 29, would provide extra weeks of EI benefits when parents agree to share parental leave.

For parents who share the program’s standard 35 weeks of parental benefits, the new initiative would provide up to five additional weeks, for a total of 40 weeks. For those opting for the program’s extended parental benefits, there would be an extra eight weeks of benefits, bringing the total to 69 weeks.

In addition, the bill would implement proactive pay equity legislation for federal public- and private-sector employers with at least 10 employees. A proactive approach focuses on ensuring that employers comply with pay equity rules rather than relying on employees to make complaints.

Bill C-86 would require employers to establish and maintain a pay equity plan within three years of becoming subject to the legislation. The plan would identify and correct differences in pay between predominantly female and predominantly male job classes where the work performed is of equal value.

Another measure in the bill would provide a deduction under the federal Income Tax Act for employee contributions to the enhanced portion of the Quebec Pension Plan, beginning in 2019. The move would ensure that the contributions are treated the same way as those for the enhanced portion of the Canada Pension Plan.


Labour standards changes proposed

The federal government has tabled legislation that would make widespread changes to its labour standards law.

The proposed changes to Part III of the Canada Labour Code were included in Bill C-86, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 2, tabled in October.

Among the amendments in the bill are measures that would give employees three weeks of vacation, paid at six per cent of their wages, after five years of employment instead of six years. Employees with at least 10 years of employment would be entitled to at least four weeks of vacation, paid at eight per cent of their wages.

Workers who have completed one to four years of employment would continue to be entitled to two weeks’ vacation, paid at four per cent of their wages.

Another change would eliminate a requirement that workers be employed for at least 30 days before becoming entitled to paid statutory holidays.

Other amendments would give employees a 30-minute unpaid break during every five consecutive hours of work and a minimum eight-hour rest period between shifts.

New leave provisions would allow employees to take up to five days off each year for personal leave, with the first three days paid for those with at least three months of service.

The bill also proposes to require employers to pay employees with at least three months of service for the first five days of family violence leave they take each year. Amendments passed last year, but not yet enacted, would provide for a 10-day family violence leave.

Other amendments would eliminate length of service requirements for most leaves and allow employees to take time off for court or jury duty.

The amount of termination notice for an individual termination would change from two weeks after three months of employment to a graduated system based on length of service. The maximum notice would be eight weeks after eight consecutive years of employment.

In addition, employers would have to give terminating employees a written statement identifying their wages, vacation benefits, severance pay, and other benefits and pay arising from their employment as of the statement date.

The bill would also allow employees to refuse to work a shift or work period if their employer did not give them at least 96 hours of advance notice, prohibit employers from paying employees differently based on their employment status, and raise the minimum employment age from 17 years to 18.

British Columbia

Government tables EHT bill

The provincial government has tabled legislation that would levy a new employer health tax (EHT) on employers whose annual B.C. payroll exceeds $500,000.

Bill 44, the Budget Measures Implementation (Employer Health Tax) Act, 2018, which Finance Minister Carole James introduced in the provincial legislature Oct. 16, would cover remuneration that employers pay to workers who report to work at their permanent establishment in B.C. and to those who do not report to work there, but who are paid from or through the permanent establishment.

James has said the EHT revenue would help replace money that will be lost when the government eliminates medical services plan (MSP) premiums in 2020.

The EHT rate would be 1.95 per cent of the employer’s total B.C. payroll for the year if the employer’s annual payroll exceeds $1.5 million. For employers with an annual payroll between $500,001 and $1.5 million, the rate would be 2.925 per cent of the amount by which their B.C. payroll exceeds $500,000.

Employers whose annual B.C. payroll is no more than $500,000 would be exempt from the tax.

Different calculation and exemption rules would apply to registered charities and non-profit employers.

Employers subject to the tax would have to file a return and pay their remittances annually by March 31 of the following calendar year, with the first returns and remittances due in 2020.

If employers’ EHT in the previous calendar year exceeded $2,925, they would have to pay quarterly instalments, due June 15, Sept. 15, and Dec. 15, with the remainder due March 31. Employers paying instalments in 2019 would have to make their first payment by June 15.

Registration for the tax would begin on Jan. 7, 2019. Employers who have to pay it in instalments in 2019 would have to register by May 15, while all others would have until Dec. 31 to sign up.  


Nova Scotia

New regulations for leaves implemented

The Nova Scotia government implemented labour standards changes affecting pregnancy, parental, and critical illness leaves on Oct. 11.

The changes were part of Bill 29, the Labour Standards Code (amended), which received royal assent on that date.

Among the amendments, the length of pregnancy leave was reduced from 17 weeks to 16 weeks and the length of parental leave was increased from 52 weeks to 77 weeks.

The legislation also created a new 16-week unpaid leave for employees who need to take time off work to care for a critically ill adult family member. It also broadened eligibility for leave for a critically ill or injured child to include family members other than the child’s parents.

The government said it made the amendments to align the Labour Standards Code with recent federal changes to employment insurance.


Saskatchewan

Throne speech promises labour standards changes

The Saskatchewan government says it will amend the province’s labour standards law to create a new critical illness leave and expand parental and maternity leaves.

The government made the pledge in its throne speech to open the latest session of the province’s legislative assembly on Oct. 24.

The proposals would amend The Saskatchewan Employment Act to allow employees to take up to 15 weeks off work to care for a critically ill adult family member.

They would also increase parental leave from 37 weeks to 63 weeks for employees not taking maternity leave, and would add an extra week to maternity leave.

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